Author: Geraldo Figueras, marketer at remote company Xoxzo
Remote work is not the magical solution for all the work issues in the world. Remote work is a skill. And, as with any skill, everyone can train and master it – while some will have a more natural way of developing it, of course.
I like to think I already had this skill on me even during my office years, but it wasn’t before I switched to a fully remote position that I understood how much more I needed to develop myself.
In less than 1 month on the job, it was clear I’d have to pick myself up and improve a lot if I wanted to be as effective as I was at the office.
That said, here are the 4 subsets of skills hidden beneath the remote work coating.
It’s only when you depend exclusively on text, audio and video that you begin to appreciate the powerful nuances of a conversation in person. Not only body language plays a huge role in smoothing out the communication processes, but the background office noises actually tell a lot about what everyone is doing.
Working remotely, everything is gone.
The remote work needs to skilfully use text in a way that messages are properly communicated yet concise. It’s much easier to lose attention while reading a long paragraph than hearing someone else.
Audio and video also present their unique challenges. The rhythm and dynamic, especially during group discussions, present an immense difficulty in keeping conversations flowing. Those milliseconds of online lag and the flat volume of all participant’s voices make the whole group stumble, even more so in creative discussions and brainstorming.
Addressing the unique issues of remote communication and being able to retrain yourself to overcome this is, perhaps, the most single important aspect of a skillful remote worker.
It doesn’t matter if you work remotely on a team of 3 members or 300 members. Truth is, you’re on your own.
Yes, proper organizations will have their own systems and best practices in place. Still, the natural state of isolation will force you to master things you never thought about before.
Even though there’s always a colleague you can rely on for some support, you will feel bad interrupting other people precisely because you don’t know what they are doing on the other side. It’s easy to raise a hand to a coworker who’s casually taking a break and checking his phone, but your remote colleague might be in the prime focused state of his tasks and definitely wouldn’t enjoy being bothered.
You will ask your self 3, 4 times if you really need to reach out to someone, or if you can try and figure it out yourself.
Suddenly, you’ll appreciate how powerful Google can be to your life.
Let’s be honest. If you need a boss nagging you every 60 minutes to check the progress of your work, you should stay in the office.
Remote workers who are capable of growing with their independence are the ones that really understand the virtues of this lifestyle.
That said, even the most self-disciplined individual might face temptations. That doesn’t mean you have to point on your keyboard uninterruptedly from 9 to 5, but you have to find out yourself what works and what doesn’t for you.
In my case, I build a home filled with pleasurable resources that are constantly calling for my attention. Being able to fragment my working time at home with sporadic bursts of enjoyment was the key to forcing myself to stay focused when I need to stay focused.
Remember: self-discipline is subjective. You need to test yourself and look for the most effective results.
So, how about you? Which one of those skills do you struggle the most with? Let me know in the comments.
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